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Removing Sweat Stains

By Dr. Laundry November 4, 2013

I recently purchased 600 thread count, cream-colored sheets and have been using them ever since. Unfortunately, my husband is a warm sleeper and now there are yellowed areas on our new sheets. Is it safe to bleach them?

 

Because the sheets are 100% cotton, you can definitely launder them with bleach and not damage the cotton fibers.  What you don’t know is whether or not the cream color is colorfast to bleach. You can test the sheets with a quick bleachability test using Clorox® Regular-Bleach. First, add 2 teaspoons of bleach to ¼ cup water and apply a drop to a hidden part of the sheets (like the part that gets tucked into the mattress). Be sure to test any trim on the sheets, too. Wait 1 minute, blot dry, and look for a color change. No color change means you can safely bleach the sheets.

 Assuming the sheets pass, here are some tips to help you get the stains out. For the wash water temperature, I would use hot water, as well as a “regular” cycle.  A higher wash temperature and increased agitation will definitely improve cleaning. I would also pretreat the stained areas with a little liquid laundry detergent prior to washing to break up any oily body soil that’s part of the sweat stains.  Just apply a little of the detergent directly to the stains and rub in. Wait 5 minutes, ensuring the detergent doesn’t dry on the fabric, and then wash the sheets in hot water using detergent and ¾ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach. When complete, air dry the sheets—I always  recommend air drying items that had stains so you can be sure they are all the way out before tumble drying items in a hot dryer (which can permanently heat set some stains). This should do the trick, but if the stains have been building up over time and have been in and out of a hot dryer since last fall, then you may need to repeat the treatment for complete success.

 If the sheets don’t pass the bleachability test, then you can try using Clorox2® Stain Fighter and Color Booster.  Presoaking with the powder will be especially beneficial, especially if you can soak the sheets overnight in a deep fill washer. Select hot water and add a couple of scoops to the empty washer as it’s filling with water. Swirl the agitator to dissolve the powder, and then fully submerge the sheets. Allow the sheets to soak overnight, and the next day drain the soaking solution.  Wash the sheets in hot water using detergent and more Clorox2®.